By Eddie Clark
(May 2, 2012) SILVER CITY, NM.—The SRAM Tour of the Gila upped the ante for 2012 with the additional sanctioning of the UCI for the Men’s Pro1 race. The Women’s Pro 1,2 and Men’s Pro 1 races also maintained their status on the National Racing Calendar.
The 157km first stage sent racers out of town via a 2 mile neutral start before attacks started in earnest. After a flurry of the common early race attacks, both Adam Carr (EKOI.com-Gaspesien) and Paul Mach (Kenda 5 Hour Energy) succeeded in establishing a gap of 2:35 over the peloton at the first bonus sprint near mile 20.
“Everyone was looking at each other, and I went up to Adam Carr and rode hard, and the peloton decided it was ok. That was a really hard race, and pulling the breakaway off to the finish was a tall order”, said Mach.
The duo held a gap that neared 4:30 before it was reeled in just as the last feed zone was approached towards the base of the Mogollon climb. “The peloton caught the brake away with about an hour of racing to go, which is pretty unusual for this stage. It was a lot more controlled than previous editions”, said Scott Tietzel (Juwi Solar).
Once the peloton hit the base of the 2,100 foot climb, the group was quickly whittled down to about 30 riders remaining in contention. United Health Care flexed its muscle as they set the pace leading into the flat plateau where a solid cross wind further split up the small group, and numerous gaps sent many into damage control to make up lost places.
After Ben Jacques-Maynes (Bissell) set a blistering pace across the flat plateau for teammate and fifth place finisher Chris Baldwin, only Rory Sutherland and Marc De Maar (United Health Care) remained at the front of the race to contend for the win. While the select group negotiated the final kilometers, Joe Dombrowski (Bontrager-Livestrong) worked his way up the climb to pass 13 others and cross the line in second place just 12 seconds behind Sutherland. Competitive Cyclist’s Chad Beyer rolled in 2 seconds later to take third place.
The Pro 1, 2 Women’s race was held earlier in the morning, and Kristin Armostrong (Exergy Twent12) took a commanding win with a standout climb up the Mogollon to earn a 2:18 lead on the Women’s GC.